“She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” – Proverbs 31:12
I can really be frustrated and unkind with my gentle husband of almost 40 years. He has a completely different processing speed and commitment to on-time action. His sensitive nature can erode into moodiness. His heart to care for people everywhere leaves me wondering my place in his world. He inherited genetic hearing loss from his family of origin and I don’t give enough grace to help him stay part of the conversation.
Early on in our life together, I realized that when my expectations of him were not met, my options included:
- Being mad
- Causing a fight
- Sabotaging a date or couple time
- Embarrassing him (and me) publicly
- Making others uncomfortable in our conflict
- Shutting him (and God?) out while angry
- OR, taking my offense and impatience to God and figuring out a better solution
Being the wise woman that I am, I learned to come around to the final (right) response, but sadly after one of the other options flared up. Sigh.
My man loves me and I love him, really we do, not just saying the words. Showing that affection and care is not only my job, it is a joy. Why don’t I respond well? What grease can be applied to scoot me through sticky moments and moods?
These four helps answered my questions in the middle of the night (well, it might have been the hot flash that woke me). I recall times I employed these tools and saved myself from creating useless conflict. Try for yourself!
Not my strong suit. I tend to be sure I have the right view, the right perspective, because I do think a lot and problem solve for lots of people in lots of situations. How arrogant to think I can never be wrong, I know. Still I stand too long on my side of the issue, separated from the person I love the most. Foolish woman!
What does it really matter who is right anyway? I slowly embraced in my 40s the truth that there is often more than one way to do things right. In self-controlled moments, I push the humble words out to my offended husband: “I’m sorry.” “Let’s start again.” “I know I just interrupted; what were you saying?” “I acted badly just now. Please forgive me.”
Coming in low with humility makes it possible to continue, to bypass a gap for the Devil himself to push us further apart and steal our harmony and peace. In a very few minutes we are usually doing well and enjoying our time together. My husband is humble and makes it easy for me to offer such conciliatory remarks. I should do this much more.
I like to laugh and enjoy entertaining others with funny stories and details of goofy events. My husband has told me more than once, “I like it when you are playful with me. It makes me feel loved and lighter about the cares I come home with at night.”
I remember one day he entered the kitchen where I was happily singing (and maybe dancing around) to my favorite playlist while preparing dinner. His expression was pretty solemn and a big sigh came out before even a Hi, Honey, I’m home-greeting. I began to compile a chastisement for being such a sourpuss (words which never make frowning people smile, by the way).
Somehow God’s grace prevailed and I went close to my hard-working man, looked him in the eyes and said, “Hey, I am certain if you tried really, really hard, you could absolutely look more depressed! C’mon let me see your best sad face!”
He was so surprised that he could not help it, he grinned at me and a twinkle went all the way up to his eyes. Humor rebooted the evening.
When I get a quirky story about our three young granddaughters or something giggly pops up in my FaceBook feed, I make a point to pass on the delightful tale to my husband. He loves good jokes and has a fabulous memory for them. Sometimes I set him up with an opportunity to storytell in appropriate company because it does a heart good to laugh. Humor is free medicine for the soul and a marriage mender.
One of my husband’s love languages is physical touch. All human beings need non-sexual skin contact for emotional balance. Cuddling babies and dancing and tickle matches are therapeutic. I love to hold my man’s hand in the movies, in an airplane, in church, while walking through the mall. I intentionally step in front of him at random times to hug and kiss.
The coming together physically, locking fingers and arms and even lips is very real protection against the external pressures and temptations that try to fracture my marriage and destroy my home, my safe place from the world’s dangers and troubles.
Sometimes I hold on to him longer in effort to divide the burden I know my pastor husband is carrying. I hope some of the heaviness will transfer onto me so he will be able to stand taller and face the giants outside the door with more strength. Our comfortable, familiar union of hands and bodies communicates more than words: You are not alone. I am here with you.
Hugs are good for him, good for me, good for us.
When I am focused, I can look, well, stern and not happy, although I am not likely feeling those emotions. The power of the smile has never been lost on me; however, I did not commit to offering it as a gift to others until I became a principal in my 40s. What a waste of years! I was in Kabul, hands-down a rough place to live and work. As a new principal and new cross-cultural worker, I needed to learn so many things.
My boss, in a mentoring moment, said, “Before you leave your office and walk through the campus, put a smile on your face. Students and teachers like their school even more when they see their principal happy.” Great advice.
I recognized smiling works magically almost everywhere, in foreign cities, crowded shops, long checkout lines, and in your own home. When I look into my harried husband’s face, I make an effort to connect with a happy expression. Sometimes he doesn’t return the smile, but I can tell he receives the gift at some level. Definitely doesn’t hurt to try. Plus it is better for me and my face to smile than frown (less wrinkles maybe?).
Wise Women Build Their House
Proverbs 14:1(NIV) has been a life verse for me:
The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Using these helpful tools and others, I intend to continue building my home and my marriage until death do us part. How about you? What helps you care for your husband?
♡ Gail Goolsby is a life coach and serves as a Titus Woman for Proverbs 31 Woman.
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